31 Attainable Home Improvements for Newbie DIYers
Tackling a four-season porch or building a piece of fine furniture may seem a bit overwhelming to those just starting their DIY journey. But the following projects are totally doable, no matter your skill level. And we've got the step-by-step plans to help you.
We designed this pergola with simplicity and economy in mind, but not at the expense of good looks. The pergola is made from standard dimensional lumber, so you just cut the parts and screw them together—no special skills required. To keep the cost down, we used pressure-treated lumber, which looked great with two coats of semitransparent stain.
You can buy floating shelves in stores or online for $20 to $80 each. But before you do that, consider building your own. For about the same cost, you can get the exact size, thickness and look you want. You can even finish them to match your trim or furniture. And your homemade shelves will be sturdier than most store-bought shelves – ours can support about 50 lbs. each. Plus, you’ll earn serious bragging rights when you’re done.
Need to find more secret storage space? Build this floating shelf with a secret drawer.
Brick Pathway in the Garden
Make a simple garden path from recycled pavers or cobblestones set on a sand bed. Learn all the details of path building, from breaking cobblestones to easy, fast leveling using plastic landscape edging.
Find more pathway ideas right here.
This classic garden arch has just six parts and can be built in less than a day. Create a gateway, frame a walkway in a hedge, or make it part of a trellis or pergola.
After you finish this project, try this garden hutch that is perfect for all your outdoor tools.
Under Cabinet Lighting in Your Kitchen
Add under cabinet lighting to existing kitchen cabinets. This unique method of wiring under cabinet lights eliminates disruptive wall tear-out and minimizes the difficult job of fishing cables from your attic or basement.
Kitchen lighting is tough. Learn these 14 tips for better kitchen lighting.
Paint Your Front Door
Painting paneled doors is the ultimate painter’s challenge. To make it easier, we tried different tools and paints and watched pros work. Here’s what we found.
Want more painting tips? Here are 29 more hacks that will turn you into a professional.
A modern planter like this is super simple to build. And it’ll last a long, long time because there’s no soil-to-wood contact—and therefore no rot. Instead, the soil is contained in a plastic planter inside the wooden planter. The only part that touches the ground is never-rust aluminum. You’ll find everything you need for this project at a home center.
Check out the entire collection of Family Handyman’s planters here.
Tile a Backsplash
Tiling a backsplash above the counter is one of the easiest ways to upgrade an old, tired kitchen on a tight budget. You can choose from the vast array of handsome ceramic tiles available, including the easy-to-install one we show here—mosaic tiles.
Living Wall with Movable Planters
If you have a ground-level deck or patio and would like a bit of privacy, consider building a living wall. It can shield you from the neighbors, surround you with flowers and provide fresh herbs just steps away from your kitchen or grill. The planter boxes are easy to build, and a drip irrigation system provides automatic watering all summer long—no worries about missing a day of watering or losing all your plants when you go on vacation.
Get inspired for your wall planters with these 14 DIY flower walls.
Drip Irrigation for Vegetables
There’s an easier way to keep your plants watered, even when your life gets busy or you’re away from home—a simple, automated drip irrigation system. These systems are affordable and easy to set up.
Irrigation systems aren’t for everyone. See the 12 vegetables that grow well in pots.
Built In Shelves
Use this project for recessed, built-in shelves to unlock hidden storage space anywhere in your house between the studs in your walls. Install a single, open box of shelves, or two boxes and add a set of glass doors.
Bamboo Planter and Trellis
Bring plants and flowers to your deck or patio with this handsome, but easy-to-build planter and trellis. And use it as a privacy screen as well. Materials cost about $100 and you can build it in a weekend.
Bamboo is incredibly fun to work with. Try this water feature if this planter doesn’t catch your eye.
Raised Garden Beds
Some gardeners prefer traditional gardening, but not the ones we’ve been hearing from in recent years. Those who’ve made the switch love raised garden beds and won’t go back.
What are you going to plant in your garden beds? Check out these 12 designs that are sure to get you inspired.
Double Decker Garage Storage Shelves
Floor space in most garages is hard to come by so the best place to find storage space for garage shelves is overhead. You can make your own DIY shelves for the garage easily go double-decker for twice the storage capacity.
You can make this metal garden arch trellis from just $25 of steel rebar. And you won’t have to weld a thing. We’ll show you how to bend the arches and attach the decorative circles with wire. When you’re done, cover it with climbing plants for an attractive addition to your garden.
Cantina Bird Feeder
Bird feeders are an incredible way to enjoy the best of wildlife. They involve about as little work as possible for the most enjoyment when sitting and reading a book on your porch or working in the yard. You can pay a fair amount of money for one of these, and even more for one that looks like it is made by hand. So save yourself some money, build one that is actually made by hand and make it fun for yourself and your feathered friends.
Timber Frame Garden Arbor
This timber garden arbor can be your place to get away for a quiet retreat or a delightful lawn sculpture that you gaze at through your kitchen window.
Does this seem a little to complicated? Try this simple timber bench.
Garage Door Makeover
Get the look of a traditional carriage-house garage door for a fraction of the retail price. With these DIY plans you can make your own using a standard hardboard garage door.
Self Watering Planter
Save water and grow healthier veggies and flowers with a self-watering planter. This attractive cedar design uses perforated drain pipe to store and distribute the water.
Plant a Tree
A fresh, new tree in your yard can add value and interest to your home’s curb appeal. It will also give you a sense of pride as it continues to grow over the years. Make sure your new tree gets off to a good start with these tree planting tips.
Flexible Garage Wall Storage
Create more storage space in your garage for tools, garden equipment, toys and everything else, even in the narrow alley between the wall and car door, with this adjustable shelving system.
Built-In Deck Planters
Planters make a striking addition to any deck, and also create more privacy, making the outdoor space feel almost like a separate room. Get full plans for building these amazing deck planters here.
Toy Storage Bins
These classic storage bins are great for sports gear and handle all kinds of miscellaneous garage clutter. Shelves and cabinets are great places to store kid stuff, but when you’re in a hurry (and kids always are), it’s nice to just throw and go.
DIY Fire Pit
Build a fire pit for not much more than the cost of a flimsy store-bought fire ring. With tips from a veteran bricklayer, we’ll show you how to make a fire pit in your backyard.
Build a fire table instead right here. It features, possibly, the most beautiful picture Family Handyman’s incredible photographers have ever taken.
Ceiling Light Fixture
Change a drab room into a dazzling one with a new overhead light fixture. Here’s how to mount that new fixture correctly and safely using professional installation techniques. Even if you’ve never tackled an electrical project before, you can install a ceiling fixture by following the DIY advice and photos in this story.
Build a raised garden bed from natural rough-cut stone that blends perfectly into the landscape. Using standard tools and a diamond-grit circular saw blade you can build this project in two weekends.
Flower beds can have problems with weeds. Check out the 5 best weed killers for planter beds.
If you want to expand your outdoor living space, a ground level deck might be your best option. Since it’s not connected to a house, it can go anywhere in your yard and doesn’t require deep footings. Because it rises just inches above ground, it doesn’t need stairs or railings. All together, these factors make it a cost-cutting, labor-saving alternative to standard decks and patios. It’s simple, too. If you have a little building experience, you can do it in a weekend!
Already have a deck? Learn 31 tricks and tips for repairing and updating your deck.
Perfect for a kid’s room or entryway, these stacking totes will hide a lot of clutter but still keep items easily accessible. Follow the video tutorial, how-to instructions and tech art below to build one (or 10!) of these simple storage containers. Make these mobile stacking totes from 1/2-in. birch veneer plywood. The dimensions we give here allow each tote to interlock snugly with the one above it and the one below it. Plus, you can cut all five parts from one full sheet of plywood! Cut all the plywood parts to size, cut out the handles and sand all the edges smooth. Then glue and assemble the totes with 18-gauge brad nails. Fill the nail holes with wood filler or surfacing compound. Leave them unfinished or apply stain or paint. If you paint the totes, use an oil-base primer and topcoat for durability. Mount 2-in. casters on the bottom tote to make the stack mobile.
Outdoor Storage Bench
It’s just a box made from four frames with legs that wrap around the corners. The panels that fill the frames are plywood with waterproof fabric stapled over them. Covering the plywood seat with foam and fabric is something even an upholstery novice can manage. This outdoor storage bench is easy to customize, too: You can change the dimensions; choose fabric to complement other patio furniture, and stain the wood to match your deck or paint it to match your house.
Plan and install a low-voltage lighting system to light up your deck. No electrical skills needed; you simply plug the system into an existing outlet. It’ll highlight deck features without glare and is safe and easy to install.